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May 17, 2002
Blog Post

Hotmail adds pre-checked option to users' accounts for 3rd party information sharing

SUMMARY: No summary available.
Thanks to Tara Calashain of ResearchBuzz for spotting a story in the Sydney Morning Herald blowing the whistle on Hotmail which just followed in the footsteps of Yahoo Mail and has added a pre-checked option to every users account stating that their information can be shared with 3rd parties. Hotmail has 115 million users so that's a great big list on the rental market. A great big list that may be mighty annoyed to learn about this.

To see for yourself, if you have a hotmail account, go to "Options" and then to "Personal Profile." The new copy reads:

"Choose how much of your .NET Passport information Microsoft can share with other companies' .NET Passport sites at sign-in:

[x]Share my e-mail address.

[ ] Share my first and last names.

[x]Share my other registration information."

Just as the Syndey paper pointed out, Hotmail hasn't gotten around yet to changing its privacy policy to reflect this change. It still reads, ".NET Passport will not sell or rent your personal information to third parties. .NET Passport will not use or share your personal information in a manner that differs from what is described in this Privacy Statement without your prior consent.

Does sticking pre-checked permission boxes in my personal profile (which like most people, I haven't visited since I set up the account years ago), count as me "selecting" to have my name rented out? Hotmail appears to think so.

Will renting out this non-permission list make Hotmail much money? Well, it's hardly high quality. The names aren't proven buyers, aren't proven shoppers, aren't proven email offer responsive, aren't proven in be interested in any particular topic, aren't proven to be any age. Shall I go on? In the list rental world that's what makes a list valuable to renters. Not just a whole mess of names.
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